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The making of 'Canon Reflex Zoom 8-2'

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Date Added: 16th September 2015

3D modeler Paul H. Paulino shows us how he made this realistic Canon camera using Maya and MARI.

This piece is the second asset on my student demo-reel at Think Tank Training Centre and it was created in four weeks. I'm specializing in Texture Painting/Modeling for films and I was mentored by Justin Holt, who wisely advised me to choose props which I could have in my hands. The head of my school, Scott Thompson, kindly lent me his Canon camera and, this way, I was be able to observe textures and materials in real life and understand them properly. I also decided to create a scene for it. I always like the idea of creating a story with an image, even if you just have an ordinary object in front of you. That being said, I didn't want to spend too much time creating other objects for the scene because the main purpose of the project was to texture and render the camera realistically for my reel.

Trying different compositions

Throughout the project I tried out a few different compositions. Here you can see some block outs that I did early on using a grey shaded model of the camera and other basic shapes. In the end, my mentor Justin advised me to choose something simple, because the whole focus of the scene would be the camera itself, so I took a tripod at my school and I began taking some photos of the camera under a nice light setup.

Trying out different compositions

Modeling the camera

The modeling process was pretty simple. I used Maya 2015, and the new modeling toolkit was really helpful and increased my modeling speed a lot. Since I wanted to create a realistic object and I had the camera on hand, I was able to use the school's 3D scanner to capture its forms and proportions. I wasn't able to retopo anything from the scanned data since it was full of holes, but it was really useful for matching the proportion of the camera.

Modeling the camera

After getting the scan into my scene I started to block some shapes. I tried to keep it as simple as possible.


After positioning the basic shapes, I added small details to each block separately. During the modeling process I had a reference folder full of hard surface tips. If you are interested you can check them out here. These tips were essential during my workflow and I also got help from my knowledgeable friend Matias Trinchero who knows a lot about hard surface modeling and taught me a lot of cool topology tricks.

Hard surface modeling

Before unwrapping I would like to point out another important thing I always consider when modeling a hard surface object: I make sure to avoid stretching. A texture will stretch around a hard edge if that seam edge isn't reinforced properly. To avoid this, I add extra support edges around hard edges.

Adding extra support edges to prevent stretching

UV Mapping

After finishing the model it was time to unwrap it. When I'm working with a hero asset like this camera the UVs are really important, but before unwrapping it I like to determine how close the screen will ever get to the object. The general rule for films is that there should be double the final resolution of the piece in texture resolution. Having this in mind will allow you to have the exact amount of UV tiles that you need. It's also important to have a uniform texture resolution across the entire model, except for very small pieces, which you can scale up, to get more resolution.

UV Map

After deciding how close I'm going to get to the object, I usually like to separate my UV's based on materials. This way when I bring the whole object in MARI I'm able to make faster selections and also export each tile separately, making my life easier.

Auxiliary Maps - AO & Edge Mask

Before jumping into texturing I baked an Edge Mask in ZBrush and an Ambient Occlusion map in Mudbox. Those auxiliary maps helped me a lot, since they were used as masks to drive and isolate details in specific areas. The edge mask is also really important because it can be used to darken edges of metal objects in the Diffuse and Specular maps.

AO & Edge Mask

Taking reference photos

An awesome advantage of having an object at hand is that I was able to take photos to grab small details and project them later. Since my friend Christian had a macro lens we were able to capture super small details, like the pattern on the camera's body. Later on I was able to create a tiled texture from it.

Reference photo's can help to create textures

Since I had so many reference photos, I found this really useful software called Pureref, which helped me organize everything without having thousands of windows around my screen. (You should definitely check it out, it's free!)

Using Pureref to organize my photos

Creating Masks from photos

After taking reference photos I usually extract masks that are going to be used in the future. Details like texts, numbers and even small scratches can be really useful since some of them are very specific and you cannot find them online.

Using Pureref to organize my photos

Creating a personal texture library

A texture library is one of the most important tools on the texture painter toolkit. After each project I make sure to collect and save all the textures that I used. I try to be organized and separate everything properly, saving me a lot of time in the future.

My personal texture library

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Skars on Thu, 17 September 2015 5:08am
Thanks for the dedicated tutorial! Just awesome.
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